Sabot basing – making a footprint base

With our sabot basing we mount our models on steel bases from PWS (http://www.freewebs.com/pwsltd/). These can be arranged on different sizes of footprint base to represent different formations or allow us to play using units of different widths depending on playing area available. To make a footprint base we take an appropriate sized steel base (again sourced from PWS who will happily cut sizes to order) and apply some self adhesive magnetic sheeting from Magnetic displays (http://www.magneticdisplays.co.uk/).

This is a simple step by step guide which may be stating the obvious to some but I have decided to include it for completeness.

Step 1. Acquire your materials.

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Step 2. As you are often doing multiple bases cut a strip of an appropriate width. Here I am doing some 60mm x 60mm bases so am cutting a strip of a sheet of self adhesive magnetic sheet 65mm wide.

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Step 3. Peel off self adhesive backing and placing bases onto the adhesive surface. I tend to place a single base at a time and cut it off as it helps maximise the amount you will get from a magnetic sheet.

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Step 4. Trip off the excess from around the base, and you are done!

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Making these is the easy part – the difficult part is deciding what size to make your sabot elements and consequently what size footprints you will need.

Sabot basing – Black Powder Era – 1

Picking up from a couple of threads already running in my posts and as requested by Steve (Fenton) here is the first installment of the Sabot basing focussing on the black powder era. As mentioned in the ’45 AAR we use ‘double’ bases for our black powder gaming (taking the 60 x 30 base size as the standard). So our units in line have a foot print of 120mm x 30mm , in column of attack & battalion mass 60mm x 60mm,  in march column 30mm x 120mm, and in square 45mm x 45mm (all will be revealed later regarding square). We use steel bases provided by Precision Wargames Supplies (http://www.freewebs.com/pwsltd/) and our basic sizes are 30mm x 15mm and 15mm x 15mm (there is some variation in our group when it comes to cavalry which I will touch on later and may be deserving of a future post). Our footprint bases are also steel from PWS covered in self adhesive magnetic sheet from Magnetic Displays Ltd (http://www.magneticdisplays.co.uk/).

So with our figures suitably painted and based we make our unit from four 30 x 15 troop element bases and one 30 x 15mm command base. In addition we do two 15mm x 15mm and two 30mm x 15mm blanks to act as fillers (these do not necessarily need to be blank and can be used to add skirmishers to our units especially when we get to the Napoleonic period). So we have our unit (nice SYW Austrian composite grenadier unit) and footprint bases below :-

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The astute amongst you will note there is three 30 x 15 troop bases and two 15mm x 15mm troop bases. This is ultimate future proofing. Ian and myself drove ourselves barmy considering the many subtly different sabot basing systems to give maximum flexibility in our model collections. One of the systems we looked at was the ACW rule set of Regimental Fire and Fury where units are typically 6-8 elements large and base removal is part of the mechanics. Hence 15mm x 15mm becomes your element and 30 x 15’s are used as double elements. I think this is probably one step too far for myself and for my future black powder era units I will be using four 30 x 15 elements.

Anyway I digress. The first and probably most common formation you will be using in the black powder era is the battalion in line. Using the 120mm x 30mm footprint base place your troops in a line at the back, command central front, either side of this place one of each 15 x 15 and 30 x 15 blanks and ‘voila’ one battalion in line.

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Of course, when it gets to Napoleonics you may well want to represent the skirmish strength of the unit as demonstrated by this ACW unit.

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Other formations you may see on the black powder battlefield are ‘column of attack’ using the 60mm x 60mm footprint.

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… and as these are Austrians we have ‘battalion mass’ again on the 60mm x 60mm footprint, and below showing two layouts representing this formation.

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For manoeuver in the early stages of battle and for reserves there is the ‘march column’. Using the 120mm x 30mm footprint end on.

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More prevalent in the Napoleonic era where cavalry was taught to charge home infantry increasingly used the ‘square’ as a defensive formation. SYW troops were trained to adopt this formation but the cavalry threat meant that there was rarely cause to use it. This is represented by a 45 x 45 footprint. This looks good on the gaming table as you get a real sense of troops bunching together with the smaller footprint area and it feels right that they become increasingly susceptible to artillery and musket fire.

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So a quick run through how we use sabot bases for our black powder era games. This is by no means the only option as a lot can be done using 20 x 15’s and other base sizes. Some of this will be dependant on your playing area amongst other factors. I hope to look at the 20 x 15 sabots in more detail when I get around to painting up some ACW armies.

Things are slightly different in our group when it comes to cavalry. Some feel that the Baccus cavalry is a little on the small size and prefer the larger horses of Adler. Those that use Baccus base their cavalry in the same way as their infantry but with the command team integral to one of the ‘troop’ bases. Those that use Adler cavalry need a larger depth to the base and so use 30 x 20’s for the figures and 30 x 10’s for the blanks.

Hopefully this and my future musings on sabot basing will not muddy the water how to base your models. My hope is that these ramblings will provide an insight into some of the more common options and the pros and cons around them. If all else fails catch me at one of the SMS clinics at various shows where you will be able to see these in the flesh and see how they might work with your own gaming.

The ’45 rising

Here goes my first AAR on my blog following a cracking battle we fought on the 12th April 2013.

A little thinner on the ground than is usual at our little Friday night get together’s with just Ian, Jason and myself present. Ian treated us to a little Black Powder stand up fight set around 1745 between His Majesty’s forces and a Franco-Scottish force (figures and scenery supplied by his good self). This was to be an introduction to some of the more irregular Scottish units as all our previous fights had been much more regular v regular force affairs. Jason chose the British as his force leaving me with the Franco-Scotts. Ian acted as umpire to smooth play along.

OOB British

Right flank – One battalion of Scottish regulars in British service, two battalions of British Line, one 6lb artillery battery.

Centre – One battalion of Grenadiers, two battalions of British Line, one 6lb artillery battery.

Left flank – One regiment of Horse, one Regiment of Dragoons.

OOB Franco-Scotts

Right flank – Two Regiments of French Cuirassier.

Centre – One battalion of Highland clan, one battalion of Highland clan (warband), and two freshly raised Lowland Battalions, one small unit of Scottish Dragoons, one 3lb artillery battery.

Left flank –  Three french line battalions, one 6lb artillery battery.

Troop Review

The British forces scream firepower, with all battalions being regular with the platoon firing special ability. In the cavalry match off the British Dragoons trade a little firepower at the expense of close combat abilities.

The Franco-Scotts have a more unpredictable force, best used to get up close and personal as their firing ability is a significant shade below that of their opponents. The central Scottish formation is where I thought the game would likely be won or lost. If they performed well and got in close they could overwhelm the enemy, if they got held up and a protracted firefight ensued then it was going to be a long day at the office.

Initial Set Up

Initial Set up

The games afoot

Dicing off to see who moved first saw the Franco-Scotts seizing the initiative. The Cavalry on the right received the first orders and made good progress to the bridge looking to isolate the enemy cavalry. The centre made  lazy single move. The brigaded french artillery bounded forward and unlimbered next to the town. Then we ordered the French line to advance…… so first blunder of the day and following a 1 on the blunder table a double retrograde move took the French off the board!

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With nothing else to move it was now the British turn. The British cavalry got right through the town, over the bridge and formed up facing off the French Horse. The British centre ambled forward. Next we moved over to the British right, the troops that were facing the now absent French! Ordering the Scotts forward to occupy the town they obviously heard there was little in the way of grog to be had there and decided to head back to camp, and following the second order blunder made a singe more right through the two british line units behind them. All of them failed their disorder rolls!

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After such an eventful first turn we moved onto the second turn. The French Infantry decided to come back from off-board. The French horse were then ordered to charge the British cavalry before them…. and would you believe it, the third blundered orders of the day! Fortunately the troops reacted by moving one move towards the nearest enemy which brought the British horse into combat, but left the other French horse sat in front of the British Dragoons (not a good place to be absent guns).

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Needing to try a swing the combat to my advantage I ordered the small unit of Scottish Dragoons to move up in support of the French Horse, this utilised their marauders ability as I would maintain control over them despite the distance from their brigade commander. Unfortunately they fell short of forming a supporting role.

The Scottish center with uncertainty creeping in decided to sit tight for now, although an order from the commander sent the artillery forward to  set up the other side of the town where the French artillery had set up. The French artillery opened fire causing a casualty and disorder to the Limbered British artillery.

Next we moved to the combat between the two heavy cavalry. Both were bloodied as a result of the combat, unfortunately my French horse came off the worse and then managed to roll a 4 on their break test. First blood to the  British. Using the sweeping advance he moved his Horse into contact with the small Scottish Dragoon Regiment. I opted for the stand a fire reaction in the vain hope of a 6 which wound cause his attack to flounder. No such look and I awaited the onslaught. With some poor dice rolls on Jason’s part the casualty rate on both sides was equal – only his combat resolution for being heavy horse won him the combat. The Dragoons managed to just about hold it together and retired in good order. The Dragoons managed to inflict a casualty on the British cavalry moving them to a shaken status.

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With my cavalry in disarray on the right and the French having just rejoined the field things were looking a little sketchy. Jason opted to ‘Rally to me’ with his Horse. A round of fire from his dragoons saw the remaining French horse take a casualty. His central two Line units advanced to  engage the artillery in a fire fight, whilst his grenadiers decided however to hold back and his artillery was disordered from the last round. The brigade on his right could do little as they were disordered as a result of his first turns blunder. Despite a hail of fire the French artillery suffered but  single casualty.

Turn three became a little bit do or die. I attempted to move the Scottish Dragoons into the small town where his cavalry could not touch them and they could provide annoyance fire. Needing two moves to complete the manoeuver I managed just the one which left them like sitting ducks outside the town! Feeling the battle was slipping away from me I ordered the formed Highland clan and other lowland battalion advanced to form up alongside their artillery.  I then tried to swing the remaining unit of lowlanders to provide some flank protection from the British Horse which was now hovering on my flank with only the Scots Dragoons there to provide a speed bump.  The Lowlanders were obviously not so keen and were seemingly confused by their orders and so generally milled about instead. The French on the left made a slow but steady advance. Lastly I needed to turn the cavalry battle so charged the remaining French horse against the British dragoons hoping to drive them into the river. Damn it if he did not disorder me (causing the charge to fail) but caused a casualty as well.

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Things were looking a bit bleak for the Franco-Scotts as we awaited further retribution from the British. Predictably the British horse charged in against the Scottish Dragoons, a little surprisingly Jason decided to charge the remaining French Horse with his Dragoons (although being disordered not only can they not counter-charge, but they also suffer additional penalties in combat). Across the rest of the British lines we saw relative inactivity with not a single formation from the center understanding their orders, whilst on the right the artillery moved up cautiously as did the infantry.

The firefight with the French artillery continued and we survived another round.

In the ensuing combats not surprisingly the Scottish Dragoons were hammered into the ground. It look ominous for the British Dragoons as I managed to roll 6 out of 9 dice scoring hits on a 5+. Jason then proceeded to save five of them! The combat was drawn but as I was disordered I was forced to retire, but could not as we had decided before the game that the small town to my rear could only be moved through and/or occupied by a small unit. So my entire cavalry force was now consigned to history. He used his consolidation move to form up his two cavalry facing my exposed flank.

Things were threatening to fall apart at the seams. Most importantly the rearmost Lowlanders passed their orders and moved to face the British cavalry. Opening fire on the British Horse determined that these fellows were reasonably trained (you roll to find out their quality when you perform a fire action or engage in combat!). Enough was done to shake the British Horse again. The Highlander warband made a slow advance as did the French.

On the British turn we saw the Dragoons dizzy with the success against the French Horse do a ‘Follow me’ and charge the Lowlanders. No disruption was achieved ans so they locked horns. The central British artillery finally moved up slightly, Jason’s Grenadiers seemed to remain confused at the back of the cornfield. The British artillery on the right moved into a reasonable firing position but did not have the move left to unlimbered and the reminaing British infantry ponderously moved towards the cornfield on the right. The ensuing fire saw the French artillery finally give out. So we moved onto the crunch fight between the Dragoons and the Lowlanders. It was a very close run thing with only the Lowlanders supports managing to swing the fight to their advantage. Jason rolling a 3 on the break test lost the Dragoons, along with his brigade commander (the only thing that was then capable of ordering the British Horse was the British general and he was three moves away at the other side of the board).

Obviously sensing the critical moment in the battle had arrived and the time to strike was now the French managed to triple move and take up point-blank firing positions against the two of the British line units and the still limbered artillery. With the Scotts swinging around the village to add to the pressure. The fire from the French however was less than to be desired inflicting a solitary hit on one of the British line units.

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Things were getting a little congested in the center, Jason’s Grenadiers finally got to grips with the cornfield and advanced to its edge. Neither of his artillery moved (again), and his right flank Brigade continued its ponderous advance into the other cornfield. The return fire from the British against the French proved devastating – one unit was hit with all 4 dice and failed all 4 saving rolls! Fortunately it just retired from the firing line.

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This now needed some pretty fancy manoeuver and rolling. Using initiative the Lowland Scotts charged the British in the flank, similarly the Highland Scotts charged the Grenadiers on initiative.  The leftmost French Battalion had to succeed in a two move order (one to retire and then advance into the position vacated by the central battalion – this is the proximity rule coming into effect) which they succeeded using a ‘Follow me lads’ (or I guess a ‘suivez-moi des jeunes hommes’). To put the final boot in the Scots Highland warband also performed a ‘Wee-mi me-kin’ putting them in a position to support the Lowlanders assault.

Rolling for the reaction of the Grenadiers to the ‘Terrifying Charge’ they withdrew back through the cornfield. With the one British Line battalion engaged in combat that meant the two French battalions were able to  concentrate their fire on the remaining British Line battalion, causing it to break and flee. The combat then between the British line and the Lowlanders on their flank was one-sided and enough to break them also, and with them the second brigade and the British army. Long live Bonny Prince!

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(Shame it was out of focus, but have included it to show final relative positions).

 

Aftermath

My first game of BP put me off it for some 18 months – it was an introductory game with British colonial forces v Zulus. The opposing ‘team’ managed to roll all their forces on with three moves and so took the ridge and completely set themselves up. When the gatling gun opened up and rolled 17 consecutive 6’s wiping out half our force it was game over before it had begun. Ian has re-introduced our little following to the rules and I must say it is now one of my all time favorite games.

This game like all our others we have played the winner has remained unpredictable until the last, and both sides have had the opportunity to close the deal if the dice were kinder. What I think ultimately did for Jason in the end was the relative inactivity of over half his force, which allowed me to isolate enough to clinch the win despite not having the run of the dice in shooting and combat until that point.

Our thanks to Ian for running this game for us. Down side is that I now want to expand my SYW collection (and replace some units with our sabot based ones), and I have quite enough projects on the go at this moment in time…..

6mm Rapier Persian Camel Archers

Continuing from the Rapier Persian javelin armed light cavalry I painted and used for photographing the ‘Mikey Mud’ post, I went on to prep up and paint the set of Camel Archers I had. Cleaning the models up I thought to myself – these look like they are semi-naked. This led me on to a picture hunt whence I came across this site (http://iranpoliticsclub.net/photos/U04-Achaemenian3/index.htm) which has a lovely archive of military photos.

I managed to find a photograph which the model could well have been sculpted from :-

Achaemenian Arab Camel Cavalry Unit

These were a joy to paint (even if the models don’t have a quiver). Given the colours involved I spray undercoated in AP Desert Yellow followed by a black wash. The camels recieved a fairly heavy drybrush of Tan Yellow (v122), followed by a light drybrush in Dark Sand (v123). Next up I painted the flesh on the riders by block painting in Cork Brown (v133) and then using a dot and blob technique picked out the major muscle groups in Dark Flesh (v019). This is a technique I have used on 15mm ancients but never in 6mm, it has given a very pleasing result and if anything a little less paint would provided a little more contrast and definition. Next I painted the saddle cloth in Red (v033) with a double bottom edge stripe in Light Yellow (v010). Hair and beards were painted Black (v169), reigns in Cavalry Brown (v137), and finally the bows in Light Brown (v129). A wash in the old W&N Nutbrown Ink and varnish before basing.

The only thing that saddens me about these is that most army lists only allow one or two units!

Rapier Persian Camel Archers - front shot

Rapier Persian Camel Archers - side/rear shot

Rapier Persian Camel Archers and Light Cavalry

Looking at the two units side by side makes me wonder if using 6 or 7 of the Camel archers per base would look more open order, or perhaps having one more light cavalry per base. I guess I shall have to wait to see what the heavier cavalry looks like alongside.

Struggling to decide what unit to paint next for the Persians, especially as I have a number of other dirstractions. Quite possibly will do a light Infantry and a skirmising infantry unit next.

Basing using Mikey Mud – AKA DIY Basetex

Having put a similar article on the Baccus forum some while ago I thought it time to update it, do a few more photos, and post it here. Often at the SMS clinics I only really get chance to talk to people about basing techniques in 6mm given the problems of drying times. The two main methods I tend to discuss is the floodwashing technique (AKA the Baccus basing system) and the Mikey Mud technique.

So what is Mikey Mud I hear you cry. Well over the years I have tried many basing techniques. Firstly was the old PVA and drop on some sand, but I found this ‘flat’ and  kept coming off by the grain or even sometimes in chunks. This led on to mixing the sand with PVA which added more texture but still shed all over the place ( I think the PVA I was using and the plastic bases had some part to play in this). Then came the 15 min epoxy which was very solid but also very messy and very expensive! I had a trial out on basetex but found is consistency to be inadequate. Things came to a bit of a head a few years back when I was confronted with the rebasing of some 7-800 28mm Wars of the Roses figures. I needed something that was going to be relatively cheap, easy to use, workable, acted as a filler to cover integral metal bases, and ideally acted as a base colour to paint from.

My thoughts were that something along the lines of basetex was the right direction to go in. I concluded that I needed a particular base (sand), PVA, and a pigment (paint). Happy to do a bit of ‘structural’ gardening I often had some builders shard sand knocking around (bought by the tonne it’s as cheap as chips). The next step is really important unless you want to grow a variety of fungi and moulds in your Mud pot. This is cook the sand – this burns off the carbon matter in the sand. I tend to do mine in an old roasting dish and cook in the oven at 200 C for an hour or so, two or three lots has provided me enough sand for over 5 years now.

Next is to get the grade you are after. With the 28mm models I initially was using this on I thought to use raw would provide some more stoney bits I can use to give greater depth to the texture. I quickly learnt that it was better to have removed these as they proved more trouble than they were worth as it was so much easier applying and working with a ‘smoother’ mix of mud. This is where personal preference comes in as to what ‘grade’ you want to go for. I use an old children’s fishing/butterfly net or a fish tank net. I feel this gives enough texture to the mix whilst being very workable. Keep the larger stones and grit that are sieved out as they come in handy later to add clumps of rocks to the bases.

The ‘Ingredients’

Baseing - Mikey Mud ingredients

..and as I embark on expanding my Epic 40K forces and get stuck into some 15mm Sci-fi I find the need for a black mud so here is a fresh pot.

Basing - Mxing the ingredients 1

Basing - Mixing the ingredients 2

This made too thin a mix so ~ 30% of it went into another pot and more sand was added. Essentially use the water and sand to create the texture you are after.

Mikey Mud in Action

So here we have a step-by-step guide to using Mikey Mud on some freshly painted Rapier Persian light cavalry. Please note I would normally be holding the mounting pot but only having two hands meant I have placed it down to take the photos.

The finished models on their painting strip.

Persian light cavalry to be based

Figures stuck down to the base (basing is for Impetus 60mm x 40mm).

Basing - figures attached to base

The Mikey mud is first of all spooned on to the base using a modelling tool, focus on getting the right amount on the base as opposed to getting it the right place.

Basing - Applying Mikey Mud

Basing - Rough Mikey Mud applied

Next up take a largish brush and using liberal amounts of water you can mould the Mud across the base and into the recesses. This also brings up a bit more texture on the surface.

Basing - Sculpting and texturing Mikey Mud

To further add some texture I drop on some grit and stones which are gently tempered down into the mix.

Basing - Adding stoney crops

Basing - temping down stoney rocks

Painting the base

First up is overbrushing the whole base with Valejo 127 Ochre Brown. Firstly this is done around each model with a smaller brush before using a larger brush to cover the larger areas.

Basing - Painting - Initial overbrush - detail

Basing - Painting - Initial overbrush - large

Next up is a patchy drybrush of Valejo 123 Dark Sand, using two coats on the stony areas.

Basing - Painting - Highlight drybrush

Finally an edging in dark brown and the addition of MiniNature Moss pads late fall (747-24 S)

Basing - Painitng - Adding tufts

… and the completed base, which will be available for viewing on the Rapier stand at Triples (onwards) along with other Persians I have painted.

Basing - The finished article